Accidental step mom writes:
I am a 29-year-old woman and dating a wonderful 32-year-old man. He is perfect in every way that I could have asked a man to be. He is attentive, kind, considerate and very loving. Everything was great between us for the first few months of our relationship. He and I spent a lot of quality time together until school holidays came around. His five-year-old daughter from a previous relationship visited for the holidays.
Everything was great, the child and I got along like a house on fire and of course, he was very pleased with that. The only problem was that the child's mother was not very pleased. I assume that his daughter told her all about daddy’s new friend when she went back home. Before we knew it, she came and dropped the child off at his doorstep and said that it was his turn to look after their daughter.
I have no problem with this, but it has accelerated our relationship to a new level that we hadn’t really discussed yet. Worse still, the mother keeps showing up at odd hours all the time, saying she misses her daughter and wants to see her. I cannot handle this vindictiveness.
Linda Yende responds:
Unfortunately, your situation happens a lot when one partner moves on after a relationship has ended. If the other partner still has feelings for the other partner and possibly still holding on to the possibility of a reconciliation, they become extremely bitter and vindictive when their ex moves on.
I think her feelings are a natural response to someone new coming into the picture, and that there may be several things going on here. Feeling lonely can make most of us feel unwanted. In my experience, usually the last of the two exes to get into a new relationship after a break-up feels like the loser. She may be struggling with feeling that the person who doesn’t deserve to be in a new relationship, in this case her baby daddy, has been rewarded with a new relationship while she, who deserves it, has nothing.
Even if she doesn’t have any feelings for him at all, knowing that she has been officially 'replaced' can trigger all kinds of emotions. It’s also possible that she may be feeling like she has been cheated because you, the new woman, are getting what the baby mama always wanted but never got from the baby daddy.
BITTERNESS AND ANGER
The daughter is only five years old. No matter how recent their breakup might be, the truth is, they never really got the chance to be a family. And no matter how rocky their relationship might have been, the child was most likely conceived out of love and out of a place where they really did want to build a family and get old together. So, honestly, her bitterness and anger are understandable.
The question is, how do you deal with it? The truth is, there is no easy way to do this, and there are no guaranteed results. My belief, though, is that you cannot fight fire with fire. You also cannot force him to fight your battles. Have a woman to woman talk with the baby mama. Invite her over for a cup of coffee, have a chat with her and get to know her.
Just let her know that you have a common goal: You are both in her daughter’s life, and as such you two need to present a united front. Acknowledge her existence and her contribution to the child’s wellbeing and upbringing as she needs to know that you are on the same team and that you are not trying to replace her in the child’s life.
Of course, she is angry and bitter, but it really might help if she got to know you. It is far easier for her to hate and criticise a total stranger. But the moment she knows you, she might see that she is perhaps being unreasonable. Of course, she will also get to know a lot about you through the child. Don’t be too easy-going or try to be more fun than the mother.
Yet on the flip side, don’t come in and try to change the way things have always been done in the child’s life. You cannot be seen to be those girlfriends who think they know a child better than their mother. As much as you want her to see the positive in you, you also need to try very hard to see the positive contribution that she makes.
Try and find as much good as you can about her and focus on that. Most importantly, do not get the child involved in your issues. When you are angry at something she has done, do not talk about it or show it to the child. Whatever angry words you say will have a massive impact on the child. After all, this is her mother.
TORN BETWEEN TWO WOMEN
Lastly, do not crucify your man over the actions of his ex. He really does find himself torn between the woman that he loves and the mother of his child. If you think your man made a bad choice in the past by being with this woman and having a child with her, shake off your resentment. He was a different person when he met her, and so was she. He made the best decision he could, he fell in love, and he thought he was doing the right thing.
Don’t make him pay now for a decision he made years ago. That will just tear at the fabric of your relationship. Instead, accept him for who he is as a whole man, and that includes his ex and mother of his child. Like you said before, you didn’t sign up for all of this. But it is what it is. Now you have to do what you can with the cards you have been dealt.